Western celebrates 2023 Fulbright Scholarship awardees

Western Sydney University warmly welcomes two top young researchers from the United States as part of the 2023 Fulbright Scholarship program – Camille Kilayko Sicangco from the University of Florida, and John Robertson Schaefer from Harvard University.

The University also congratulates Dr Rocco Cavaleri, School of Health Sciences, who has been selected for a U.S Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholarship hosted by the University of Southern California.

The two U.S based scholars will bring new ideas and share research skills across the fields of ecology and environmental education with Western Sydney University over the coming year, while gaining insight into Australian research expertise and capabilities.

As a Fulbright Scholar from Western Sydney University, Dr Cavaleri will work with researchers at the University of Southern California in establishing new methods to predict whether individuals will develop chronic pain following an acute injury and investigating emerging techniques to prevent the onset of chronic pain.

“Chronic pain is a worldwide problem that requires worldwide solutions. I will only scratch the surface of what is possible while I am at the University of Southern California, but the Fulbright Scholarship program represents the start of an ongoing collaboration between our two countries with some of the world’s leading pain researchers,” said Dr Cavaleri.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research, Enterprise & International) Professor Deborah Sweeney warmly welcomes the new U.S Fulbright Scholars to the Western Sydney University community and congratulates Dr Cavaleri on representing the University and Australia in the United States.

“Western Sydney University is proud to support the Fulbright Scholarship Program year after year to help develop and strengthen research and educational ties between Australia and the United States,” said Professor Sweeney.

“On behalf of the University community, I look forward to welcoming our two emerging U.S based researchers to Australia. As world leaders in sustainability and environmental research, I am delighted they have chosen Western as their new academic home, and we look forward to seeing the results of their collaborative research.”

The Fulbright Scholarship Program is the United States’ flagship foreign exchange scholarship program aimed at increasing cultural understanding, bilateral collaboration, and innovation.

Fulbright Scholarships for study or research in the United States in 2024 are now open (opens in a new window) for applications.

2023 Fulbright Scholars

Camille Kilayko Sicangco

From: University of Florida
Visiting: Western Sydney University
Award: Fulbright Future Scholarship, funded by the Kinghorn Foundation
Discipline: Ecology

Camille is an ecologist interested in linking plant form and function to climate change responses. A graduate of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Florida, with double majors in mathematics and botany, Camille has conducted novel research on mechanical interactions between savanna plants and carbon dynamics following drought and fire.

For her Fulbright research, Camille is hosted at Western Sydney University’s Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment. There she will combine mathematical modelling and empirical data to evaluate leaf-level responses of eucalypt trees to droughts and heatwaves. This work will help to identify drought and heat resilient eucalypt species and educate rehabilitation of vulnerable ecosystems.

John Robertson Schaefer

From: Harvard University
Visiting: Western Sydney University
Award: Fulbright Postgraduate Scholarship, funded by Western Sydney University
Discipline: Environmental Education

Hailing from Michigan, John received his Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University in History and Science, focusing on the history of botany. His current research at the University of Cambridge examines the use of machine learning models in community-based citizen science and humanities projects.

As a Fulbright Scholar, John will work with Professor Tonia Gray to develop a series of interactive lesson plans and online resources exploring Australian floral biodiversity. He hopes this work will support both students and teachers in rural areas through an integrative environmental-evolutionary approach to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) topics, emphasising the importance of outdoor experiential education.

Dr Rocco Cavaleri

From: Western Sydney University
Visiting: University of Southern California
Award: Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholarship, funded by Monash University
Discipline: Neurophysiology

Rocco leads the Brain Stimulation and Rehabilitation (BrainStAR) Lab at Western Sydney University. His research is dedicated towards understanding the mechanisms underpinning musculoskeletal and neurological disorders. Rocco uses non-invasive brain stimulation techniques to explore the ways in which the nervous system responds to processes such as pain.

As a Fulbright Scholar, Rocco will work with Professor Jason Kutch at the University of Southern California in establishing new methods to predict whether individuals will develop chronic pain following an acute injury. He will also be investigating emerging techniques to prevent the onset of chronic pain.